Cloquet celebrates after senior Spencer Wehr ran in a touchdown to make it a two possession game with one minute, 48 seconds left in a Class 4A state quarterfinal. Photo by Taylor Lunemann, SportsEngine
A bevy of Cloquet defenders drag a Bulldog down in their 36-21 Class 4A state quarterfinal victory at St. Cloud State University Friday. Photo by Taylor Lunemann, SportsEngine
After being bounced from the state tournament in the quarterfinals in three of the last four years, nothing was going to stop a determined Cloquet team this time around.
The Lumberjacks scored the game's final 16 points to overcome a second half deficit to pick up a 36-21 win over Becker in a snow-packed Husky Stadium at St. Cloud State University Friday.
"We knew (Becker) would be better than their record because they play a pretty tough schedule," said Cloquet coach Thomas Lenarz. "They have some great athletes and coaches so we knew it was going to be a battle."
After jumping out to a 20-7 lead entering halftime, Cloquet saw that lead disappear when the Bulldogs got a 2-yard touchdown from senior running back Alex Blomgren and a 10-yard touchdown from sophomore quarterback Josh Fobbe to senior receiver Lucas Dertinger.
Despite all the momentum and the scoreboard being in Becker's favor, the Lumberjacks battled back to win the fourth quarter.
With Cloquet deep in Bulldog territory, quarterback Tim Pokornowski nearly fumbled a snap, but made an improvised run all the way into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown.
After the defense held again, senior Spencer Wehr bulled his way through a pair of defenders into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown with one minute, 48 seconds remaining to make it a two-score game.
"I never sensed panic, never sensed any doubt. They hung together and got after it," Lenarz said regarding the fourth quarter comeback. "(Becker) made a push, and we made a push back. It was a lot of fun."
In a game with poor weather conditions, having multiple playmakers helped the Lumberjacks immensely. Pokornowski and Wehr each had a pair of rushing touchdowns, and fellow senior Mitchell Gerlach notched the fifth.
"It's great, because the defense can never just key on one guy," Pokornowski noted of having several weapons on offense. "We always have multiple guys who can do multiple things and it's great."
Lenarz expressed a similar sentiment.
"It's great for us coaches because they can make us look pretty smart sometimes," added Lenarz. "But I can't say enough about our offensive line. They blocked so well tonight."
After a blistering cold quarterfinals game, Lenarz looks forward to another game this season, this time indoors at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"It will be great. I don't like being cold so this will be fun to put behind us for sure," he joked. "But I'm just really proud of the kids and the coaches for hanging together and finishing it out."
There won't be any settling for state tournament appearances for Cloquet after tonight's win.
"In past years, we haven't had much success here in the quarterfinals, and last year it was really sad when we lost," Pokornowski said. "It feels good to finally push forward into the 'Bank.'"
Becker stormed back from a 13-point deficit to take a brief lead, but Cloquet scored the game's final 16 points to grab a 36-21 win in the Class 4A state quarterfinals at St. Cloud State University on Friday night.
With freezing temperatures and players running through two inches of snow all game long, both teams were able to put points up on the board.
The Lumberjacks (11-0) got two rushing touchdowns from both senior quarterback Tim Pokornowski and running back Spencer Wehr.
The Bulldogs (7-5) were led by two passing touchdowns, both from quarterback Josh Fobbe to Lucas Dertinger.
Cloquet, ranked No. 5 in the Class 4A Associated Press poll, has reached the state tournament in four of the last five years, but this is the first time in that span that it has advanced to the semifinals.
Becker's Alex Blomgren notched one of the Bulldogs' touchdowns in their 36-21 loss to Cloquet Friday. Photo by Taylor Lunemann, SportsEngine